Woven: A Survey of Salisbury House Textiles

A diverse collection of textiles were among the many fine furnishings and decorative arts acquired by Carl and Edith Weeks for Salisbury House. The collection spans an incredible breadth of space and time, from 1920s Navajo weavings to 16th century French tapestries.

Several pieces are currently on view that suggest the scope of our collection. These textiles, pictured below, are on display for the first time in many years.

Two textiles on display come from our unique collection of Navajo sandpainting rugs. Craftsmen typically incorporated into these weavings ceremonial designs  from the traditional Navajo sandpainting ritual. These pieces were produced for the tourist market in the late 19th century and into the first decades of the 20th century. Carl acquired the majority of his Navajo rugs from the Two Gray Hills Trading Post in New Mexico.

Navajo sandpainting rug, mid-1920s. Salisbury House Permanent Collection.
Navajo sandpainting rug, mid-1920s. Salisbury House Permanent Collection.

In addition to several pieces from the Navajo tradition, the Salisbury House collection contains many Persian textiles. There is Kerman pictorial rug that was created in south central Iran, and includes some very interesting iconography.

The Khamseh confederation rug pictured dates to the mid-19th century. This “Khamseh confederation” was a loose grouping of tribes from southern Persia, and became heralded for their skills in rug-making.

Also from the mid-19th century, but from a different geographical location, is a Bokhara piece from Turkestan. These types of rugs, still produced today, are some of the most popular among collectors.

Tabriz, a city in eastern Azerbaijan, remains well-known for its rug production. Within the collection is a particular Tabriz pictorial rug that dates to the first quarter of the 19th century and depicts a pastoral scene.

Our survey of Salisbury House textiles concludes with a piece from 1650s France. This verdure tapestry portrays several figures, including an individual on a horse, in a wooded setting. The popularity of French verdure tapestries eventually waned with the advent of wallpaper, which provided a lower-cost alternative for wall coverings.

French verdure tapestry, c. 1650. Salisbury House Permanent Collection.

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